The alarm went off at 7am and we were up and at ’em! I was personally driven by the need to get downstairs to the Nespresso in the kitchen. Bob had “decommissioned” the upstairs one last night so my usual coffee in bed on waking was not available….
We loaded the Igloo with our frozen stuff and loaded bags for life with the food from the fridges and larders. It was blowing a gale and bucketing with rain. Hideous day. As we were drinking our coffee, we heard a faint noise from the front of the house which sounded like something at the letter box. When we opened the front door to start loading the car, we discovered that half of our enormous grapevine had blown down from over the porch!!!! It wasn’t broken but it was right across the front path. No time to right it, so I heaped it on the side border where it will survive happily enough while we are away and it doesn’t look out of the way. Yikes!!!! Must have been the weight of the wet vine and grapes.
We got away for 830 and had a smooth drive into Dover Ferry Terminal. Managed to go the right way this time and check in was quick. It was absolutely straightforward passing through both French and UK borders. No questions. No forms, just a wave through.
We were on the 10am ferry. There was quite a queue of lorries there and more UK cars than I thought might be the case. It was by no means busy, but not that quiet either. Miraculously the 10am was on time and we boarded at around 930. Found a very out of the way pair of armchairs with a table between facing the window. It was a bleak scene. The sea was grey/green and very lumpy indeed. Not a day to be in anything smaller than a P&O ferry. In fact we felt no movement at all and it was only when I had a mooch around the duty free shop and noticed the bottles were chinking away that I realised there actually was some.
Arrived in Calais at 1230 local time and were quickly away. The weather had improved by now and it was patchy blue sky and sun with clouds. No more rain. Our journey to the Marriott took about 3 hours using the motorway (23 euro tolls) and there was only light traffic all the way.
Our envelope with keys etc was waiting at the gatehouse. We had the usual funny issue with the gateman where he couldn’t “get” our surname and therefore find us on the list. I tried spelling it for him but I could tell from where he was looking on the list that he was hearing my “B” as a “P”. I tried phonetics both traditional ie Bravo and Francophile, Bordeaux but to no avail and in the end he abandoned hope and gave me the list and I pointed at our name. AHA!!!! Boler! With a “B”!!! , he exclaimed in delight!
We were delighted to find that we had been allocated a house in the row of three houses I ‘d spotted when we were here in July, on the other side of the pool from the previous one. These three houses have their own hedged back garden leading out to the pool terrace and I was taken with them. So, well done Marriott! We were even more delighted when we got inside and we found they had delivered us a bread knife and a kitchen knife!!!! So sweet of them and rather impressive. If you read my last blog, you would know that when we arrived we were a bit dismayed to find that there were no kitchen knives in the villas due to an “incident” of an unspecified nature. We’d rung the manager to ask for at least a bread knife and he was so apologetic that he couldn’t locate us one. Anyway, this time, he must have seen our name, remembered and come up trumps. A bread knife and a massive kitchen knife! Bob had better keep on my right side!!!!!
We brought all our stuff in and unpacked and arranged the cupboards to how we wanted. The little house is identical to our previous one so that was easy to do. Bob has brought our Amazon firestick with us so we can use that and also access Netflix etc while we are here. So, by about 5ish we were all settled in and dinner underway. I had the usual faff with the Nespresso machine because someone previously had run it dry but I got it going.
The little house is very fully equipped but we can see it would be even more charming normally. They have removed all the soft furnishings and any ornaments that aren’t totally necessary, plus any magazines or literature. All the towels were in place including pool towels. Supplies for the bathrooms (including loo rolls) were delivered in sealed plastic bags and ditto for laundry and kitchen supplies like cloths, dishwasher tablets and tea towels. There is a big wall dispenser of hand sanitiser in the hallway and disinfectant wipes both upstairs and downstairs. They’ve very much thought things through here.
There were quite a few people in and around the pool. We have a clear view of it from our patio. The forecast for the next couple of days is similar to today ie about 24-27C and long sunny intervals. Looking to turn showery from Friday for a few days. So, if that turns out to be true, we will spend the next couple of days around the pool and then start our sightseeing. There are some palaces and chateaux that we want to visit, plus the small towns. One of the chateaux that we went to last time, Chateau Vaux le Vicomte, has the whole house and garden lit by thousands of candles on summer Saturday nights so we want to go to see that. There will be plenty enough to do.
Both felt absolutely exhausted for some reason. So an early dinner and a few episodes of The Fall tonight. Happy to be here and looking forward to exploring.